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Two recommended Windows Server 2003 books

May 28, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* You can't have too much knowledge

The books on Windows Server 2003 are starting to hit the shelves and in general are well-written, informative and useful tomes. Authors were helped by the relatively long development cycle which meant much more time to look at, digest and write up the major (and minor) points of the new operating system. That time might have been used up on “search and replace” operations every time Microsoft renamed the operating system, so extra points go to authors who early on, created macros to handle this chore.

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When I reviewed Windows Server 2003 a month or two ago, I recommended two books on the new NOS ( Those recommendations still hold, but there are two other books you might want to consider.

Everyone learns differently. Some need more pictures than text, some need concrete examples while others prefer abstract concepts or step-by-step how-to-do-it instruction. Even though there are fewer books on Windows Server 2003 than there were for Windows 2000 when it was launched, the difference is caused more by changes in the publishing industry than any perceived changes in the operating systems.

The two books I want to mention today, while published by the same company (Addison Wesley) take two different approaches to the new NOS. “Inside Windows Server 2003” is task-based, offering concrete examples for the use of the new system. “The Ultimate Windows Server 2003 System Administrator’s Guide,” on the other hand, is more concept based in its exposition of the new and improved technology.

William Boswell’s “Inside Windows Server 2003” is a practical guide. Chapter titles begin with active gerunds, such as “managing,” “designing,” “configuring,” “installing,” “performing,” “recovering” and “understanding.” As an example, the chapter “Deploying Windows Server 2003 Domains” looks at three different scenarios – upgrading an NT4 domain, upgrading a Win 2000 domain or migrating one or the other to Windows 2003. Boswell then briefly introduces the new features of Windows 2003 that will be useful for this task and goes on to show how to use these features in each of the three scenarios.

“The Ultimate Windows Server 2003 System Administrator’s Guide”, by Robert Williams and Mark Walla, is rooted more in concept than in activity. While it covers all of the information in the chapter of Boswell’s book I mentioned above, it does so throughout numerous chapters, which look at concepts such as “Active Directory,” “Naming Services,” “Planning and Installation” and “Policies”.

Both books are good, but I don’t think you need to have both. Look at their descriptions, check the summaries, read a few pages from a couple of chapters. One will be right for you.